Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.


The Zakim Story & Prayer, Part 3


Part 3

May 1st, 2018

(Read part 1 and part 2.)

I often ask myself, “is it coincidence, or destiny, that I am descendants of Zakim/Zakheim?”

I, a Tai Chi/Chi Kung practitioner from Jerusalem, Israel, was one of the first ones to be around when Dana-Farber was beginning to first consider complimentary approaches. And then, two years later, I had the opportunity to introduce mind-body approaches in a very limited way to their patients. Two years after that, I had the privilege of being around for the historical moment when Lenny took over and led the creation of the Zakim center. Before Lenny joined, we tried for a few years but it wasn’t enough; I had class only once a week, which moved from room to room. We had many meeting and lots of discussion, but it looked like it was going nowhere.

But within a few years of Lenny taking the lead, he was able to bring about such amazing progress compared to what was done before. No wonder he was what people call “a mover and shaker!”

Of course, he had help from other individuals such as: 

Cynthia Medeiros 

Dr. Lee Marshall Nadler

Dr. Paul Richardson

Dr. Kenneth Anderson

Anne Doherty-Gilman

Susan DeCristofaro

Meredith Beaton/Starr and her husband Billy Starr

Rick Kaitz and Erica Kaitz, both of whom paid for my Tai Chi and Chi Kung class at Dana-Farber before the Zakim center had any money. Erica passed away, unfortunately, from a rare form of Cancer.

Close friends of Joyce and Lenny such as Carol and Dennis Kanin, the Schwartz, and Laura Molta (who does the great video, for free, every year!).

The center has also had help from special, powerful individuals who wanted to help in appreciation of the results they received from mind-body intervention while going through Cancer. Individuals such as Larry Lucchino and others.

(P.S. Sorry if I missed or did not mention other individuals who helped and are a big part of helping lead the Zakim center to where it is today!)

One of the special individuals that keeps leading and promoting the center (and Lenny’s legacy) is Joyce Zakim, Lenny’s wife, who I have known since the day I met Lenny. Joyce is one of the kindest and nicest individuals I have ever met. Always wearing a smile, always positive and cheerful and down to earth. Her constant time and energy, and that of a group of supporters and friends to her and Lenny, are one of the main reasons for the recognition and success of the Zakim center today.


Over the years, there were three individuals/directors whose leadership and direction allowed the Zakim Center to make huge steps forward in operations and recognition. Their personal time, passion, positive thinking, wisdom, and amazing personalities are what led the Zakim Center to where it is today.


The first Zakim director, an unbelievably charismatic individual, is Dr. Paul Richardson. Dr. Richardson put a strong emphasis on research and achieving recognition through scientific research. While Dr. Richardson was the director, we were able to conduct a small visibility study.

In addition to that study, we wrote a paper: “QUALITATIVE STUDY OF CANCER PATIENTS' EXPERIENCES WITH AND REASONS FOR INTENSIVELY PURSUING QIGONG, A CHINESE MEDITATIVE EXERCISE THERAPY,” as well as a Pilot Study of “12 weeks of Qigong as Gentle Mind-body Exercise for Metastatic Breast Cancer.” And finally, we presented a poster at a cancer research conference with the title "Pilot Study in Metastatic Breast Cancer of Diurnal Cortisol Variability, Mood and Muscle Strength Associated with a 12-week Program of Qigong as Mind-Body Exercise.”

Dr. Paul Richardson was offered the position of principle investigator (PI) in a treatment study for Multiple Myeloma, a treatment which then tremendously improved the rate off success with Multiple Myeloma. In the video, Dr. Richardson summarizes novel agents and combinations used for treating multiple myeloma. Key strategies include targeting protein degradation, restoring immune function, and combination therapy.

If Lenny had survived a few more years, perhaps this treatment could have prolonged his life for another 10 years, or maybe even put his cancer into remission; such is the world of Cancer. See Lenny's Story: Cancer and the Quality of Life.


The second Zakim Center director was Dr. David Rosenthal. Dr. Rosenthal is a great man, whose patience and huge heart will just melt you as you are working with him. He is smart, humble, down to earth and a loving individual to patients, colleagues, and his lovely and kind wife, Judy. Dr. Rosenthal was a great leader and promoter for the Zakim Center and his well established and recognized leadership in the traditional medical world brought the Zakim Center great acknowledgment and recognition.

Both Dr. Rosenthal and his wife, Judy Rosenthal, were instrumental in bringing the “Hope Lodge” to Boston. I met so many individuals and families that saved so much money by staying at the Hope Lodge, which also and allowed them to better receive their treatments in the Boston area. 


The third and current medical director, and a very important individual to the Zakim Center, is Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, who started in 2014 and is our present Zakim Center director as well as a breast cancer oncologist. Dr. Ligibel is one of the smartest people I have ever met (along with my mother Professor Zichria Zakay/Rones and her research with Cancer, and my father in-law Dr. Irwin Harold Rosenberg, also known as Isaac.) Dr. Ligibel is such a kind, thoughtful, and funny individual, and her dedication and passion is another large reason for the success and recognition of our center. I am proud and honored to work under her at the Zakim Center. Her research is impressive, to say the least, and she is one of the leading scientist and expert in both exercise and diet benefits to Cancer patients and survivors.

After the event, Dr. Ligibel sent a beautiful and touching email to the Zakim Center staff that I would like to share it with you:

Dear Zakim Team-

I wanted to echo Joyce’s words last night in thanking you all for your hard work—some of you for more than a decade and some for not quite so long—in making the Zakim Center be a place of restoration and healing for our patients.

At the end of the day, what makes the Zakim Center great is all of you—the energy and devotion you bring to work each and every day, whether you work with patients directly, make the center’s appointments and programs flow seamlessly, or build the research base supporting what we do.

I hope you all listened to the words of the patients in the video and saw how much you work has meant to their lives, and saw how inspiring your work was to all of the people at Music Heals the Soul last night. For those of you who could not join us (we missed you!), we will make sure that you have a link to watch the beautiful video that so nicely depicted our new center and highlighted the difference the Zakim Center makes to our patients.

Thank you for all that you do. I look forward to further Lenny’s vision as we work to foster and grow our center.


Dr. Ligibel’s right hand assistant, Victoria Kennedy, is another great person contributing to the Zakim Center. And I can’t forget Meghan Mcloughlin! Another great and kind individual she is our program coordinator.


Picture of our Zakim Center Team

Cynthia Medeiros has also been at Dana-Farber since before the Zakim Center was created, as well as during the creation. Cynthia is actually one of the pioneers and main reason for the creation of the center. She was, and still is, a friend of the Zakim family. She rides the PMC, the Pan-Mass Challenge, every year on team Lenny to support the Zakim Center and Lenny’s dream.

Dr. David Rosenthal, who I wrote about above, served as the previous Zakim medical director.

Acupuncturist Zhi ping Li, who has been at the Zakim Center since 2002.

Acupuncturist Weidong Lu, who has been with the Zakim Center since its opening in 2000. Dr. Weidong Lu has been involved in very interesting research about acupuncture and cancer. 

Here are some of his research publications:

Oncology massages Maria “Bamby” Mathay which you can also see in the short video by Laura Molta.

Massage therapist Theresa Ochenkoski.

And last; Tai Chi, Chi Kung and meditation teacher Ramel Rones (Rami).

Here are some of Ramel Rones’ publications:

Ramel Rones e mail to the Zakim staff:


Thank you to everybody and for Joyce and Jennifer’s kind words; it is an honor to be a part of the Zakim team and Tuesday night will be a night that I will never forget. It is a good reminder that hard work, knowledge, and humility are the key elements of our work; thank you.

In the Tai Chi classics it is said; “when moving move as a great river when standing be as still as a mountain” the Zakim Center and its staff are a true testimonial to those words.

Ramel Rones (Rami)


Some words from the Zakim family:

Our dad worked tirelessly to create The Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies which is dedicated to integrating the practice of complementary therapies into traditional cancer treatment. The Center provides complementary therapies and education to patients, families, and staff, and advances knowledge of the effectiveness and outcomes of integrative therapies through peer-reviewed, evidence-based clinical research. You can try the therapies at the event!

By Lenny’s children: Josh, Shari, and Deena.

And as usual, happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!